I am publishing this post to commemorate World AIDS Day with the world. I wrote this really short story years ago. I could not write anything for today, so I dug through one of my folders to find this. The story is embarrassingly bad, I know, but it is the message that counts, I think.
So please, read on. Like, or share if you got the message.
“HIV is manageable and not a death sentence. Treatment is available and free in health centers. You can live a good and healthy life. However, you should bring your wife to get tested, so we can carry out the necessary measures.” Those words echoed through Mr Dave’s mind for months. He watched his wife as she served his food and read her bible. He watched her as she dressed up for work and hummed popular gospel songs. He watched her so intensely; she asked him regularly if everything was fine. And all he could do was murmur and nod his head. He could not tell her he had HIV and he might have infected her too.
How could he? He was supposed to be the loving, doting husband. He was supposed to be the one that other wives compared their husbands to and looked at with envy. He was supposed to be faithful. He could not let her know that he was not and had never been. It was just that he knew how to hide his affairs well. He knew what to do right and when to come back home. He knew how to be a good husband.
He had told his friend, Chike a few months ago. Chike asked him when he was going to tell his wife, but he replied with silence.
“Wait, are you saying that you will not tell her? Do you want her to die without getting treatment, while you get treated? All because of cowardice. Do you want to kill your wife?” His friend asked, incredulous.
“It’s not that easy”, Dave said. “I don’t know how to tell her.”
Chike watched him, his mouth ajar, his eyes filled with disappointment.
Mr Dave would never to tell her. He had his reputation to protect.
Days later, Mrs Dave went to the market to buy groceries. As she sang one of her favourite gospel songs, she saw a group of young students sitting behind a table. Some of them were walking up to passers-by, but the passers-by ignored them.
“What is going on here?” She asked, smiling widely.
“Ma, we are doing free HIV testing and counselling.” A young girl replied.
“Oh, that’s nice. I love when young people can be seen out and about doing something. It seems no one wants to get tested. That’s the thing with our country. You have to beg them to take care of themselves.” She said, shaking her head.
“Yes Ma”, they all chorused.
“Don’t worry. I will get enough people to come and test themselves, Okay? she said and began to walk away.
“But Ma, what about you?” one of them asked.
“Me? nooo. My husband and I are both faithful to God. And I’m faithful to my husband and he is faithful to me. I can’t have HIV.” She said smiling.
“But Ma, it doesn’t matter. HIV is not only contacted by sexual intercourse. Sharing of unsterilized infected objects can also increase your risks, like manicure and pedicure instruments.”
“My children, my family and I are covered, in Jesus name. Don’t worry, I will get some young people to come and test themselves.” She said and went away, giving them a quick wave, while they called out to her loudly.
A year later, Mrs Dave began to cough loudly. She took medication, but somehow her cough would not go away. When she told her husband she wanted to go to the hospital, he forbade her from going.
“It is just cough”, he told her. Why did she want to waste money on such a common illness? Did she want to defy him because she was also earning money? He was the man of the house and his word was law, Mr Dave screamed out when she tried to argue. She could not understand her husband’s irrational behaviour and confided in her pastor. He prayed for her and told her to go to the hospital. One must always seek medical care, when necessary. After all, was it not God that made the doctors and the medicines? the pastor said.
Mrs Dave nodded vigorously, coughed heavily and left for the hospital that evening.
Years later, she came to find out she was really lucky. She was lucky to have gone to the hospital and to have discovered her status in time to receive treatment. Now, she was healthy and fine. Many people hid their HIV status from their spouses and let them die, while they received treatment that was free and effective.
As she volunteered with an NGO offering free HIV testing and counselling, she told many women her story. After telling them her story, she would always tell them, “No matter how secure you feel in your relationship, still get tested, because in this world, you never know.”